Thursday, February 20, 2014

And it's official: Spring Blooms in Northeast Georgia

The lilies bloomed the day after I searched for signs.  It's been a few days now and the lilies (daffodils) are opening all over the yard.  Even the double daffodils are budding - though they rarely open all the way.  As I walked about in that too warm too soon kind of stupor (75 degrees!) I found a few more signs that Spring has arrived.
Daffodils are so dang cheerful!
  You can tell the doubles by their larger rounder shaped buds.  The long thin buds are jonquils.  I'll post more photos when these guys open up.
The Spring Peepers have been peeping up a storm for a couple of weeks, but yesterday and today the chorus cranked it up to a constant thrum.  With all that snow melted, my little pond is still running out the overflow pipe.  And though I wasn't able to get a photo, I heard a frog give a little croak and splash into the pond.  Just that one frog. I really wanted to get a look; I mean - what sort of tough snow-bird type of amphibian would jump into that cold, cold water?  Perhaps he's like those folks who jump into icy waters to see if they can get their hearts to stop. (Mine would.) Ummm... yeah, I know - they have some other reason for doing this but I cannot fathom what.

I found new growth on the old timely climbing roses and little buds on the Yellow Jasmine, too. Then I spent most of the day chopping back privet, honeysuckle and wild roses where they had completely overrun my azaleas and were working toward smothering the iris.  I felt rather guilty; being so happy to see new leaves and buds and all, and then hacking away at that same progress in the less welcome plants.  Here in the South - the jungle will out unless tamed from time to time.
Jasmine buds...  I love the splotches of red on the leaves and the pink/purplish stems.
Hope everyone gets an early Spring!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Searching for Signs

Just four days ago...  Snow!  Got to get that barn finished!

It was a beautiful day today in NE Georgia.  After a chilly start, the temperature rose into the 50's, and the sun was warm on my face as I puttered about the yard looking for signs of Spring.  Not much goin' on.  Mud in the sun and ice in that shady spots, but I knew there was at least one spot that was keeping my dream of Spring alive, so I headed for the edge of the woods down by the shop and there...
Today - Lillies!  Should be opening in the next day or two.  Amazing how fast things can change.            

I found the faithful Lilllies shooting up and full of buds.  Last years leaves make a lovely contrast with the bright, bright green - almost blue-green of the leaves and stalks.  Or perhaps they are still a bit blue from being buried in snow!  A few more days like today, and buds will be forming everywhere.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Another Smaller Encounter

This must be my week for up-close and personal with members of other species.  This little episode began over a week ago, before the most recent winter storm and cold.  We'd been having unseasonably cold temps for about a week, when we got a one-day reprieve with temperatures in the high 50's.  I had to drive up into the mountains that day to work on a faux finish/mural project.

As I'm heading up the 4 mile climb, I hear an intermittent rustling that seems to be behind me.  One thing I cannot stand are rattles, mysterious sounds and "funny" noises in or from my vehicle/s.  Both my car and my van are at least ten years old, but there are no unidentifiable noises.  This was new.  After a bit, it ceased and by the time I made a stop for gas, I'd forgotten about it.

Several miles later, I pulled into the client's driveway, unloaded my materials and went to work.  When I came out to stow my gear for the ride home, I was surprised to see a butterfly fluttering in my window.  And then I knew what that sound had been.  Apparently the butterfly had somehow gotten into my car and been dormant due to the cold.  The warmth of that particular day had aroused it, and I guess it figured Spring was here.  Not so, little one.  In fact that night the temperature was set to drop dramatically.  I planned to find my little friend a place to shelter until the real Spring came along.

But when I arrived home, I couldn't find the little fellow.  I wasn't sure if it had escaped or just crawled into a hiding place of its own, but after searching for some time, I gave it up.

After nearly a week of bitter cold and paralyzing (ha ha) 2 inches of snow. I happened to open the rear door of my car and, sadly, my little butterfly friend fell out onto the ground.  Thinking it was dead, I placed it gently back in the car so as to examine it later at home.

That was two days ago while it was cold.  Yesterday it warmed up a bit, and today it was in the glorious 60's.  I opened my car door and what do you think?  The magical little butterfly was sunning itself on the car seat, fanning its wings.  Not dead. Hibernating.
Here's my little friend. I thought it was a Swallowtail, but no - according to my beautifully illustrated Walter Linsenmaier Insects of the World, it is a rare Javanese brush-footed butterfly.  How cool is that? My good friend Roy identified this fellow as a Mourning Cloak, and he is correct.  Seems my book had applied two species names to the same butterfly.  Pretty fellow, nonetheless.  He seemed to like the warmth of my hand. 
It's going to be warm for the next couple of days, and thinking that perhaps my car is not the best long term shelter, I placed him just inside my garden shed.  He can hide again or take off from there as he pleases.  The lesson is that if you find a butterfly and think it's dead, treat it gently.  You could be mistaken!